Palestinian Teachers Up For Global Award

Three Palestinian teachers are among the final 50 nominees for global teacher of the year - a million-dollar award that organisers hope will come to be seen as a 'Nobel Prize' for teaching.

The Varkey Foundation's Global Teacher Prize is backed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and actor Kevin Spacey is on the judging panel.

The final 50 were picked from 8,000 applicants from 148 countries - but only India and the United States have received more nominations than the Palestinians.

The Palestinian nominees have welcomed the recognition, saying they hope it may go some way in counteracting the criticisms made by Israeli politicians, that Palestinian schools teach children to hate .

"We teach our children co-operation and to accept the other. We teach them to respect different opinions," said Hanan Al Haroub, a maths teacher from Samiha Khalil school in Ramallah.

She has been recognised for her techniques in encouraging primary age children to learn through active games in the classroom.

"We are Palestinians. There are Palestinians all over the world and I educate my kids to be ready to build a future, to be part of a society, and to be good citizens, not just in their own society, but in any society, anywhere in the world," she added.

Another of the nominees is Fidaq Zaatari, an information technology teacher from Nablus who has been recognised for her championing of girls pursuing further education.

"When I got the news I was so happy. It gives me a chance to represent Palestinians to the whole world, to show that teachers here can be a shining example, and also correct some of the false impressions held by people in Western countries," she told Sky News.

When the judges come to their final decision in March, the winner will receive a $1m prize.

But it will be paid in instalments over a number of years and only on the strict condition that they remain teaching in the classroom for at least five years.

The third Palestinian nominee is history teacher Jawdat Sisan from Bir Naballa.

He has a 100% pass rate for his students, and has embraced new technology to mean they can access digital tests and lessons on their mobile phones.

But beyond the regular curriculum, Mr Sisan has also been recognised for using drama and dance to improve the confidence of his students.

By teaching his pupils traditional Palestinian dabka dancing, he says he hopes to instil in them a sense of pride in their heritage.

He said that if he wins the grand prize, he has big plans for what he would do with the money.

"God willing, I will create five scholarships for the poorest students who can't afford to continue education," he said.

"So they can go on to learn whatever they want."